CatSper channel has been considered the principal sperm Ca2+ channel responsible for the cytosolic Ca2+ elevation required for various sperm functions necessary for fertilization [1-4]. However, the mechanism underlying the activation of CatSper channel by various physiological ligands remain incompletely understood. We have recently demonstrated the expression of C-C chemokine receptor 6 (CCR6) in sperm and Ca2+ influx upon binding of human β-defensin 1 (DEFB1) to CCR6, which is important for sperm motility . In the present study, we have demonstrated that CCR6 receptor and CatSper channel are both required for the Ca2+ entry/current induced by physiological ligands DEFB1, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 20 (CCL20) and progesterone in human sperm. CCR6 is co-localized and interacts with CatSper in human sperm. Ca2+ influx mediated by CCR6 and CatSper is required for essential sperm functions, including motility, hyperactivation and acrosome reaction, which are impaired in infertile sperm showing reduced levels of CCR6 and CatSper. The present finding suggests a critical role of CCR6 receptor in mediating ligand-induced, CatSper-dependent Ca2+ influx required for various sperm functions and thus male fertility.
Keywords: CCR6; CatSper; human β-defensin-1; progesterone; sperm.